There were so many items we loved this year. Here is our favorites of 2015.
The Gift of Theatre
Who’s Your Badhdaddy or How I Won The Iraq War: Was hilarious, creative, clever, inspiring, a breath of fresh air with a score that I would buy right now, if I could. This new musical by Marshall Pailet (Claudio Quest, Triassic Parq) and A.D. Penedo (The Three Times She Knocked), was skillfully directed by Marshall Pailet, with fabulous choreography by Misha Shields. Sadly this show has closed.
The Color Purple: In a season of plot lines that show the negative side of life, the new revival of The Color Purple at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre is full of hope and inspiration. I see Tony gold for this production. Hands down, this is my favorite show of the year, so far.
Hamilton: This hip-hop musical is like 1776, Les Miz, In The Heights, Rent and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson all rolled into one, plus more. It is an exciting new form of musical, with original music as well as throwbacks to the past. The choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, will have anyone who sees this, wanting to learn this prolific new dance language.
Therese Raquin: Like a film by Ingmar Bergman or Lena Wertmuller. It is bleak, haunted, slow and concentrated. It is like watching a film more than a piece of theatre. It is the perfect blending of the two forms. I was transfixed.
Lost Girls: Raw, gritty and oh so real. The promises of first love last despite the odds. This so far is my favorite play of the season. Closed.
The Performers We Will Be Watching
Sophia Anne Caruso: Blew Us Away with her performances in Lazarus and The Nether. Oh my God! what a voice. This girl can sing anything and her voice is crystal clear, with a never ending range. Her acting is layered and profound and she is only fourteen.
Cynthia Erivo as Celie in The Color Purple knocks this role out of the park. She is memorizing and exquisite to watch as she plays the gamut of emotions, ages and situations. We love her, feel her pain and cheer endlessly when she declares her stance of hope, faith and perseverance.
Nathan Gardner: In the new musical by Allan Knee The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit, the lead Nathan Gardner caught our eye. Just in town 3 months Gardner is the real deal. He can act, sing, dance and makes us love him. With a young Nick Jonas look T2C predicts this boy will be a star.
Richard Goulding caught our eye in King Charles III. Standing out from the rest of his castmates as the raffish Harry Goulding is genuine, comedic, vulnerable and layered.
The Gift of Music
Barbara Cook Loverman: Age seems to agree with Ms. Cook, who sounds amazingly, better and better. She has one of the greatest voices and is a prolific storyteller of the American songbook. Who knew at 80 you could still astound. This 15-track set is almost entirely arranged and orchestrated by Ted Rosenthal. Highlights include “I Don’t Want Love,” “If I Love Again,” “More Than You Know,” and the title track “Loverman.”
Carolyn Montgomery-Forant with Jon Webber Visable Phoenix: This is a CD for Cabaret artists and writers to see how it’s done. Recorded live at the Laurie Beechman, Ms. Forant is a humorous writer, with an astounding range and texture to her voice. The Shire/ Maltby “Life Story” had me wondering why she wasn’t pursuing the musical theatre route, while Micahael John LaChiusa’s “Remember Me” from Big Fish had me remembering why I loved that score. Forant brings a sincere haunting quality to the piece, which is lovely. My favorite numbers however are the ones Ms. Forant has written herself. They are truly comic works of genius.
Eric Michael Gillett Careless Rhapsody: The Lyrics of Lorenz Hart: Lisetening to Eric sing is like listening to a soul be set free. Gillette brings depth and a new meaning to these classic songs and you will finally understand their meanings in a way you never have. “Have You Met Miss Jones” into “Wait Till You see Her” will have you listening again and again as will My Romance into “My Funny Valentine.”
It Shoulda Been You: I loved this show on Broadway and was sorry that the show had such a short run. Thankfully the score has been captured on CD. The lyrics by Brian Hargrove are witty and clever. I sent my writers to this show, while the music by Barbara Anselmi, is bright and tuneful, with “Whatever,” “Jenny’s Blues” and “A Little Bit Less Than” standing out. It would have been a crime for the talented Lisa Howard and Josh Grisetti not to be recorded.
Telly Leung Songs For You: Currently staring on Broadway in Allegiance, Leung is best known as Wes on “Glee” and his Broadway work in Godspell, Rent and Flower Drum Song. This heatfelt singer shines on “Human Nature,” “On My Way” and “I Just Had to Hear Your Voice.” We look forward to seeing what this stunning vocalist can do.
The Gift of Reading
Mama Joanie’s Family Cook Book Celebrating the Jewish and Italian Holidays: Jewish and Italian families pride themselves on tradition. Tradition is what the Bongiorno family is all about, and what you get in this volume of culinary secrets. Passed down through generations, this is a cookbook with recipes galore. You just choose a holiday and open to that page. Simple! I loved the “Apple Matzo Kugel” and the “Meatballs” were out of this world.
Seth’s Broadway Diary Volume 2: Having never read Volume 1, I was glued to Seth’s hysterically funny book. Seth is Seth Rudetsky the Broadway host on Sirius XM, an actor, musician and Playbill.com columnist. Featuring stories from Broadway performers such as Lea Salonga, Megan Hilty, Gavin Creel, Idina Menzel, Lin-Manuel Miranda and more, this is a must-have for anyon who keeps up with the broadway buzz.
Razzle Dazzle Michael Riedel: This is the must have book of 2015. Riedel brings back the Broadway of the 70’s and 80’s and pulls away the curtain. You will never look at Broadway the same way again after this candid and well written expose on the world of theatre. Chapter 20 is our favorite. Bravo Judy Jacksina, you rock.
Our Favorite Stocking Stuffers
Cracked Candy is sugar free, vegan, diabetic-friendly and healthy. Their not-so-secret ingredient is birchwood xylitol, a natural sweetener and sugar alternative, that is good for your teeth. Even better the kitchen that they use provides opportunities to people with disabilities. This is a win, win anyway you look at it.
Cyrotherapy is a three-minute treatment that burns up to 800 calories, release an eight ball’s worth of endorphins, improves sleep, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, smooth wrinkles, helps with rheumatoid-arthritis and heals joint pain. You will see and feel the effects immediately. To get this fabulous treatment go to Skintology at 157 East 57th Street.
Eve Pearl is a 5-Time Emmy Award Winner, Author and Authority on Beauty. She is a leader in the industry with two decades of experience as a makeup professional in television, film, theatre, print, setting the standards and trends in global beauty. Her make-up and skin care line bring immediate results. Eve’s book, ‘Plastic Surgery without the Surgery, The Miracle of Makeup Techniques’, has become a cult favorite and “must have” for beauty insight!
ScentBird: is a monthly perfume subscription. For $14.95 a month you get amazing scents that are just like all of the really expensive ones on the market and they come in adorable packaging.
Squeeze Juice is our favorite way to cleanse and ring in the New Year. These are the best tasting juices on the market and the healtiest.